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June 17, 2011 / Dr. Toad

Sing About Science

We continue our multi-part series of examining Senator Coburn’s recent report “NSF Under a Microscope” under a microscope (or at least a pair of reading glasses).

Today on our program, Sing About Science — an online database of songs about science and math, co-founded by Greg Crowther, a local medical research scientist at the University of Washington.

The project got $50k from the NSF. Coburn claims that Crowther used the funds to produce songs like “Money 4 Drugz“. How self-referentially ironic that the Senator should take issue specifically with a song about applying for grants to do medical research!

It turns out that Crowther has been writing and recording his science songs since 1999 and “Money for Drugz” was written in 2004 (years before the NSF grant) and although “Money 4 Drugz” was written in 2011, other songs mentioned in the report, like “Glucose Glucose”, have been around since 2004 (years before the NSF grant). The taxpayer money was mostly used “on networking interactions among geographically disparate contributors to the project,” said Crowther in an email. As you can imagine, not all science music writers and producers live here in WA. Some of the money of course was used to develop the site itself, the purpose of which is to create an online resource, mostly for teachers and anyone interested in educational science music, and an interactive community of educators around this resource. You can go read his extensive reply to Coburn.

Meanwhile, here’s a Symphony of Science song about the brain, which is also featured in the Sing About Science database.

So, is funding songs about science through peanuts from the NSF wasteful? Vote in the unscientific poll here, discuss in the comments.

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